The Sheaf, 6 October 2005

Marq and Yiph (also written as "Y!ph") are the pseudonyms of two Canadian cartoonists, Mark Watson and Jeff MacDonald, who made a short-lived comic strip, 'Capitalist Piglet' (2005-2006) for the student magazine The Sheaf. Frequently satirizing both capitalism and Christianity, one episode met with enormous controversy because it depicted Jesus having fellatio with an antropomorphic pig symbolizing capitalist greed. It caused outrage on the campus, which was mediatized to such a degree that it became a national scandal.

Capitalist Piglet
Mark Watson and Jeff MacDonald were students at the University of Saskatchewan in the mid 2000s and part of the editorial board of campus magazine The Sheaf, which had a 'Comics and Humour' section. Under the pseudonyms "Marq and Yiph" they wrote and drew a comic strip under the name 'Capitalist Piglet', which first ran in the fall of 2005. The comic strip starred an anthromopomorphic swine, simply named 'Capitalist Piglet'. Like his nickname implied the pig was a businessman. The artists often drew him with a high hat, monocle and cigar. Many gags ridiculed and criticized capitalism.


The controversial cartoon, which was basically just crass college humour to begin with.

Controversy
In January-February 2006, however, international controversy rose over some cartoons posted by the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten four months earlier. They ridiculed islam and portrayed the Prophet Muhammad. The editorial board of The Sheaf was polarized whether they should republish these cartoons? In the end their editor-in-chief, Will Robbins, decided not to and explained his motivations in his editorial. Only a week later, on 9 March 2006, an episode of 'Capitalist Piglet' ridiculed Christianity. The comic strip in question shows a man entering a bedroom and exclaiming "Jesus Christ!". When he leaves in shock it turns out he was actually referring to the real Jesus who is sucking the penis of Capitalist Piglet. The swine advises Him: "It's Kosher if you don't swallow." Robbins had wanted to remove this cartoon, but in the end it still appeared in print and on the paper's online version. The official explanation was that a mistake took place, partially because of a staff shortage.

The cartoon offended some students and University president Peter MacKinnon argued that The Sheaf should issue an official apology. One of the two cartoonists, Mark Watson, claimed he had nothing to do this particular gag, as Jeff MacDonald drew it on his own. MacDonald confirmed this and stated he'd only added his friend's name because the piglet character was created by him. He nevertheless took full responsibility. The Sheaf removed the entire "Comics and Humour" section soon afterwards and cancelled 'Capitalist Piglet'. Robbins resigned as editor-in-chief.

In normal circumstances the controversy would've remained a private issue inside the university. But within a few days the story was picked up by several local newspapers and radio stations in Saskatchewan. Former politician and radio host John Kenneth Gormley discussed it on the air and called on listeners to file an official complaint with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission. After a while it became national news in Canada and inspired many debates about the freedom of speech and right to offend.

Series and books by Marq & Yiph in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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